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24.10.2013, 22:13
France and Spain take home clear victories
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ROUND REVIEW: Round 1 of the Women's EHF EURO 2014 Qualification continued on Thursday. Ukraine stumble but don't fall against Lithuania. High-scoring match between Denmark and Austra
 

France and Spain take home clear victories

While France and Spain, both contenders for the final tournament in Hungary and Croatia in December next year, had no problems winning their opening matches in the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 Qualification, Ukraine scraped to a narrow victory against the underdogs from Lithuania.

Denmark and Austria played a thrilling high-scoring match in Roskilde in which the home side kept the upper hand.

Group 1: Denmark vs. Austria 42:27 (20:11)

69 goals in 60 minutes and two sides that at times played brilliantly in attack but occasionally forgot their defence tasks were the ingredients of the final match of the Women's EHF EURO 2014 Qualification Round 1 in Roskilde.

Denmark made their fans go crazy with this clear victory, but Austria also showed some impressive goals, but in the end they were left without a chance against the Danish waves of attack that kept coming and coming.

Left wing Ann-Grete Norgaard scored nine times from ten attempts and became the top scorer in this goal-record setting match of the first qualification round. Austria's Sonja Frey, currently no.1 in the Women's EHF Champions League top scorer ranking, stroke eight times.

To the surprise of many the visiting team had taken an 8:7 lead after 15 minutes. But then Austria lost their pace, committed mistakes in attack and were subsequently punished by waves of Danish counter-attacks.

Denmark scored a series of 13:3 in the next 15 minutes, virtually deciding the match already at the break.

Even though Austria improved in attack in the second half, their defence remained their weak point, as they could not stop the 'Danish express'.

Norgaard’s ninth goal to make it 41:26 took the gap to 15 goals for the first time and Denmark did not give that distance from their hands.

Group 1: Ukraine vs. Lithuania 30:27 (11:15)

Lithuania were close to the first major sensation of this qualification round, but thanks to their strong will in the final minutes and a great catch-up chase Ukraine turned the game around in their favour.

After an equal start that took both squads to a score of 8:8, Ukraine lost confidence and precision in attack and allowed the visiting team to forge ahead to a surprising four-goal lead at the break.

The hosts’ fans hoped that everything would change in the second half, but they were wrong in the opening minutes, as Lithuania even increased the gap to six goals at 19:13 in the 36th minute and seven goals at 21:14 just shortly afterwards.

One of Lithuania's outstanding players and leader on the court was Laima Bernataviciute who netted no less than 14 times.

When her teammate Zivile Jurgutyte hit the net to make it 26:20 (one of her overall seven goals) with just 12 minutes left on the clock, the way to victory seemed to be paved for the visiting team.

Instead this goal was like a wake-up call for Ukrainian top scorers Irina Glibko and Iuliia Managarova who netted ten times each.

Within eight minutes the hosts scored an incredible 8:0 series to make it 28:26, bringing Lithuania to the floor and taking two lucky points in their opening qualifier.

Group 2: France vs. Slovakia 25:18 (13:7)

It was a perfect debut for the new French head coach Alain Portes: In his first official match on the bench he saw a defence performance of his World Championship 2011 runner-ups which was close to perfection.

By allowing Slovakia to score only seven goals in the first 30 minutes, they built the base for the eventual clear success.

Despite missing some key players like Allison Pineau, France had gone ahead to 9:4 very early in the game.

Slovakia had problems in attack, as they hardly found gaps in the French defence which stood like a wall in the first half.

They improved clearly in the early stages of the second half and narrowed the gap to 15:18 while France missed some chances.

But Slovakia's hope was short-lived as France, for which many young, promising looking players took to the court, scored a 5:0 series to make 23:15 - a point at which they had decided the game in their favour.

However, the top scorers' honour still went to two experienced players: Paule Baudoin and Alxeandra Lacrabere scored six times each, while Petra Benuskova scored five goals for Slovakia.

Group 4: Spain vs. Turkey 28:11 (15:5)

Spain took the clearest of all victories in the first round of the Women's EHF EURO 2014 Qualification, outdistancing Turkey by 17 goals.

Nearly all Spanish field players put their name on the scorers' list, a tell-tale sign for the wide-range rotation, head coach Jorge Duenas was able to make use of early on in this one-sided match.

Turkey were too weak in attack to threaten the 2012 Olympic bronze medallists and ended the match with a scoring efficiency of only 18 percent.

Spain assumed full control of the match when the score stood at 6:4. They scored six unanswered goals and pushed the gap to double digits at the break (15:5).

Even though the deal was sealed, the Spanish hunger was not stilled yet. They continued putting Turkey under enormous pressure and forced them to commit mistakes.

They allowed their opponents only two more goals in the first 21 minutes of the second half, increasing the intermediate score to 23:7.

The final nine minutes then became a more even affair because Spain slowed down and saved some energy for the match against Italy, who lost their first match against the Netherlands, in just 48 hours on Saturday.

Best scorer for Spain was Alexandrina Barbosa with nine goals, Yasemin Sahin scored three times for Turkey.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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